There wasn’t much to be done about syphilis for most of its history. It was a horrible, slow way to die and the only way to ward off the most acute attacks was mercury—until a dye and a poison provided the inspiration for an effective treatment.
Syphilis, today, is minor and treatable. In the past, though, it was an incurable diseases that caused insanity, rotting flesh, and death. It's understandable that nations took drastic measures to try to stop it — but their efforts resulted in a 400-year reign of terror.
The Return of Count Spirochete was a 1970s educational film that warned kids about the dangers of doing it. This surreal cartoon depicted syphilis as a vampire and gonorrhea as an evil pitchfork-wielding demon who climbs in your urethra.